Cranford Group Home gets creative during shutdown

How do you stay busy and ease your anxiety while confined to your home during a global pandemic?

For the residents at SERV’s Cranford Group Home, there’s only one answer: You have to get creative.

Since Governor Murphy issued his stay-at-home order in March, the residents at the Cranford Group Home have been flexing their creative muscles, engaging in various activities to stay busy and stimulate their minds. One of the most notable, a group coloring exercise, took place recently, on May 6.

Staff members Amber Garcia (SRC), Karen Williams (RC), Julius Oyawusi (RC), Julia Gabriel (RC), Geraldine Obiri-ibe (RPM) led the activity, which many residents found “especially relaxing.”

“With drastic changes in routine like those throughout this pandemic, residents tend to withdraw, but activities like this coloring group really brought everyone to the table,” said Paul Dougherty, Director of SERV Centers, Union County.

This crisis has been unprecedented, but there’s a silver lining, according to Dougherty.

“This pandemic has given staff and residents the opportunity to remember and carry out activities and hobbies that they had previously enjoyed, and it has given us the opportunity to share them with one another,” he said.

Doughtery added that many residents are also establishing healthy routines. He said one resident is reading more, one has started exercising, and one has even decided to quit smoking.

Currently, the residents and staff at Cranford Group Home are planning a spirit week, during which they will participate in a themed activity each day.

Business Transformation Services: SERV’s heroes behind the scenes

March 16, 2020: That’s when it all started.

With the global pandemic forcing the closure of many facilities, SERV’s Business Transformation Services (BTS) team sprang into action.

First, they focused on facilitating work from home and other corporate pandemic measures. This included a massive build and rollout of laptops, as well as an expansion of VPN technology use and instructional activities.

They were also tasked with reviewing and revising security priorities. Unfortunately, hackers love a crisis. So, the BTS team prepared to secure and privatize SERV’s new work environments in the face of threats.

Adjusting to the new normal wasn’t easy. But SERV’s heroes behind the scenes worked tirelessly to ensure the transition went as smooth as possible.

“We were instantly challenged after doing a COVID-19 impact analysis,” said Bob Donahue, Senior VP of BTS. “To keep pace with the pandemic, we accelerated our decision-making framework while maintaining alignment to our immediate corporate priorities and long-term goals.”

According to Donahue, the BTS team needed a “course correction,” which called for a resequencing of project plans and tasks without disrupting SERV’s frontline workers.

The correction involved working with vendors and project teams to establish new, innovative plans that shifted the workload toward more technical aspects that could be handled by the BTS team and non-direct caregivers.

“We were asking employees for an extraordinary effort in this time of crisis,” Donahue said, “and they delivered.”

SERV’s BTS team consists of Mark Bensel, Senior Systems Application Analyst; John Mellon, Senior Network Engineer; Yaqoob Yousafzai, Senior Desktop Engineer; Mike Keating, Desktop Support and Helpdesk Engineer; and Stacey Padovano, IT Project Coordinator.

Right now, the team is working on several major business platform projects. Among them are a new phone system (8x8), a new requisitioning and accounts payable platform (SAP Concur), a migration to Quickbooks online and Raisers Edge/Blackbaud Fundraiser Software, and an implementation and buildout for Project Management Office and Netsmart Telehealth services.

The team also remains focused on cyber security and plans to offer security awareness training for staff in the coming weeks.

SERV releases video training for consumers and staff dealing with stress and anxiety during COVID-19 pandemic

SERV has released a Relaxation Video Training to aid consumers and staff dealing with stress and anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The training is led by Dr. Paul Lehrer, a Rutgers professor and SERV Board Member.

“This situation is a recipe for anxiety and stress. It can lead to depressed mood, to problems with sleep, or to loss of temper. It can also interfere with concentration, job performance, and our interpersonal relationships,” Dr. Lehrer said. “Sometimes it is very helpful to have a way to manage or ‘deflate’ the stress, and there are a number of techniques that psychologists have studied over the years that have been proven to help people do this.”

In the training, Dr. Lehrer covers a broad range of topics including muscle relaxation, hypnotism, relaxed breathing, and mindfulness. At the conclusion of each video, he asks that trainees practice what they’ve learned for twenty minutes a day throughout the week until they find the method that works best for them.

“People tend to enjoy and benefit from different methods. Some people do well with only one or two methods, some with all of them,” Dr. Lehrer said. “Participants in training will be able to choose themselves which methods are right for them.”

Paul Lehrer received his PhD in clinical psychology from Harvard University in 1969. After completing his psychology internship at the Stanford Palo Alto Veterans Administration Hospital, he accepted a position at Rutgers University, where he has taught a variety of courses in stress management and cognitive behavior therapy for more than fifty years.

Dr. Lehrer has led workshops on stress management and applied psychophysiology in eight countries and regularly presents them at scientific and professional meetings. He has also published more than 150 scholarly articles and serves as senior editor of the text Principles and Practice of Stress Management, of which the 4th edition will appear this spring.

Throughout his career, Dr. Lehrer has served as the president of many associations, including the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback, the U.S. chapter of the International Stress Management Association, and the International Society for Advancement of Respiratory Psychophysiology. A forty-year board member of SERV Behavioral Health System, Inc., he received a Service Award in 2017.

Drexel University donates hundreds of 3D-printed face shields to SERV


Drexel University has donated hundreds of medical face shields to essential workers at SERV Behavioral Health System, Inc.

“We are grateful to Drexel University for this generous donation,” said Regina Widdows, President and CEO of SERV Behavioral Health System, Inc. “At SERV, as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the safety of our consumers and staff remains our top priority. We appreciate the support of our friends at Drexel University, and these face shields will no doubt play a major part in helping us stay healthy and flatten the curve.”

Since March, the interdisciplinary design-build team at Drexel University has made more than 5000 face shields for healthcare workers on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“The team at Drexel and throughout the Delaware Valley has made this project happen,” said Dr. Michele Marcolongo, Department Head and Professor in Drexel’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering. “From every maker who used their technical printing skills to make headbands for the face shields to faculty members Amy Throckmorton (Biomedical Engineering) and Ellen Bass (Information Science; Health Systems and Sciences Research) who organized manufacturing, assembly, and delivery, as well as our generous corporate sponsors and donors—this was a united front to serve our healthcare workers.”

The team at Drexel University uses 3D printers to make headbands for the face shields. Recently, the team set up a large assembly and packaging process in Drexel’s Innovation Studio, from which they can produce several hundred face shields a week. 

In addition to SERV, Drexel University has also donated face shields to St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children, Penn Medicine, Main Line Health, Temple University Hospital, Einstein Medical Center, and Holy Redeemer HomeCare in Philadelphia.